NYU study away is a unique experience — students have the opportunity to live in a different city or country while remaining within the university system. Home campus expectations simply transfer to the new location. But despite the ability to stay within the NYU framework, one policy at study abroad sites sticks out like a sore thumb.
On the first day of class at NYU Paris, students were surprised by the differences between the attendance policies abroad versus at Washington Square. The policy for students at a global site states the following: “Class attendance at the centers is mandatory, and unexcused absences will be penalized with a two percent deduction from the student’s final course grade for every week’s worth of classes missed.”
It may seem obvious that attendance would be mandatory and unexcused absences would be penalized. The glaring difference between the policies is that at the Washington Square campus, students may accumulate up to three unexcused absences without penalty. The abroad policy continues to seem fairly innocuous, but then comes the official definition of unexcused — an absence not for medical or religious reasons or for a family emergency — and students aren’t allowed unexcused absences.
The problem with this policy lies in absences for “unallowable” reasons. Repeatedly, NYU Paris students have been told that illnesses that don’t warrant a doctor’s visit are not excuses to miss class. At the same time, students are warned about the overwhelming mental and physical effects of traveling abroad, including exhaustion, homesickness and potentially more frequent illness than at home. As a student, this presents a conflict: a day off from school — whether for mental health reasons, nausea or a migraine — results in a two percent final grade reduction per class missed. In these instances, when someone is migraine-prone, recovering from a cold or is sick but fails to book or does not need a same-day doctor’s appointment, the university has no reasonable way to accept the absence.
Despite the policy’s intimidating terms, not all professors necessarily enforce it to its full extent, and many instructors are understanding about extenuating circumstances. For example, a more lenient professor might allow one extra absence per course.
Study away sites do have good reason to have a stricter attendance policy than in New York. If students were allowed more excused absences, few would attend class regularly due to the allure of being in a whole new country. Despite this, it seems quite hypocritical for NYU to advise students to be more conscious about health abroad while simultaneously enforcing a harsher penalty for any absence.
Email Asha Ruparell at [email protected]